Counseling FAQs

What services does CAPS offer?

We provide a variety of services including counseling for individuals and relational partners (including roommates); 24/7 crisis intervention; therapy, support and discussion groups; skills and wellness workshops; consultations with students, faculty, staff and family members if they are concerned about a student’s mental health; presentations on mental health topics to student groups/staff/faculty; and referrals to community resources.

Who can utilize CAPS services?

Currently enrolled SSU students that have paid the mental health fee (part of the registration fees) are eligible for our services. Extended Education and Open University students are also eligible for services (their fee is paid directly to CAPS by their program). For relational partner counseling, both individuals must be enrolled SSU students.  If you are a student and are unsure about your eligibility, please contact us. Faculty, staff, and family members may also receive consultation services if they are concerned about a student’s mental health.

Is there a cost for services?

No. You will not be charged for visits.

How many visits am I eligible for?

Generally, we provide short-term therapy with appointments every few weeks. Group therapy, workshops and crisis appointments are not limited.

Are services at CAPS confidential?

Yes, your confidentiality is protected. There are occasional legal exceptions that your counselor will explain to you at your first meeting.

Who works at CAPS?

CAPS' staff members include professional therapists and psychologists who have a special interest and experience in working with college students.

How do I make an appointment?

To make an appointment with a CAPS staff member, please call 707-664-2153 to request an appointment or to speak to a counselor for urgent concerns. During the COVID-19 pandemic while CAPS operates remotely, we will schedule you for a telephone or Zoom appointment with a CAPS counselor. When CAPS is open for in-person services, you can also make an appointment by coming in to the office during office hours (located in Building 17A).

When are appointments available?

Appointments are available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 AM until 5 PM and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 AM until 6 PM.

What if my needs are urgent?

Please call us immediately. 24/7 counseling is available to all (even those not in crisis) after hours and on weekends. Examples of urgent concerns include:

  • Current intent to harm yourself or thoughts of harming another
  • Hallucinations (seeing/hearing things that don't exist or that others don't see/hear) or other serious symptoms of possible psychosis
  • Recent loss of a loved one that is significantly impacting your functioning
  • Recent trauma that is significantly impacting your functioning (physical/sexual assault, domestic violence, acts of discrimination/hate)
  • Concern about the safety of another

For more information, please visit our Crisis Services page.

If I go to CAPS, does that mean there's something wrong with me?

No, it doesn’t. Students utilize our services for many reasons including many students utilizing our services because they are interested in their personal growth and navigating challenges in their lives. Many students face normal developmental concerns and academic pressures while at SSU, and at times may feel anxious, angry, or depressed. Many students are impacted by chronic stress and/or traumatic experiences, and at times may feel isolated or self-critical. Many students are impacted by the current socio-political climate and need support.  Many students are exploring aspects of their identities and need space to explore and discuss.

Whatever reasons and experiences are prompting you to utilize CAPS services, seeking a confidential, non-judgmental space for yourself in therapy to attend to your well-being does not mean that something is wrong with you. Oftentimes, processing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with a neutral professional can assist you in clarifying and identifying your needs and goals, seeing different perspectives, finding alternative behaviors or coping strategies for yourself, and more.

What can I talk with my counselor about?

Your counselor will act as a facilitator to help you express your concerns and what may be troubling you. They'll ask questions from a place of curiosity and compassion to try to gain understanding.  You are welcome to express any concerns that you would like, and we understand that the process of sharing certain concerns or experiences can take time as you and your counselor build a trusting relationship together. Sometimes you may know quite clearly “what’s bothering you,” and your counselor will help you develop additional strategies for navigating these concerns. At other times, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly “what’s bothering you,” but instead you notice more general feelings such as feeling “anxious,” “depressed,” or “unmotivated.” You might also notice physical or behavioral signs such as feeling irritable, having sleep difficulties, or having stomach pains.

Your counselor can help you begin to clarify these feelings by offering feedback about what they are hearing or observing. Students discuss a variety of topics with their counselors, including but not limited to: relationship issues, self-esteem, stress, depression, anxiety, loneliness, adjusting to college, identity development, self-injury, multicultural or diversity issues like the impact of systemic oppression or discrimination, sexuality, eating issues, suicidal thoughts, substance use issues, perfectionism, academic concerns such as procrastination and low motivation, and more

Will anyone else have access to information about me?

Everything you discuss with your counselor is kept confidential by CAPS. With rare exception, our staff will not release information to anyone outside of CAPS without your permission to release that information. The exceptions to confidentiality are based on legality, and include belief that there is an imminent danger of harm to yourself or someone else, or if we need to report child, dependent, or elder abuse. Note that, in California, intentionally viewing child pornography is treated as child abuse and requires a report.  In addition, to these exceptions to confidentiality, a court order or subpoena may require a release of records.  Your counselor will discuss these exceptions with you at your first meeting.

What qualifications do counselors have?

Counselors all hold Master's or Doctoral degrees in Counseling, Clinical Psychology or Social Work.  They are licensed with the State of California as Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, Clinical Social Workers or Professional Clinical Counselors. If they have not yet obtained licensure, they have completed their degrees and are meeting final requirements for licensure.  If this is the case, their work is supervised by another licensed staff member.  Your counselor will discuss this with you and will provide contact information for their supervisor.

How long may I be seen?

Counseling and Psychological Services welcomes all students to make an initial appointment to meet with one of our counselors and discuss their concerns. During this initial meeting, the counselor, in collaboration with the student, will recommend services within CAPS or off-campus in the community and assist students in obtaining the appropriate services to meet their needs.  We also offer single session therapy without a consultation to those students with immediate non-emergency needs.
For those who engage in ongoing individual or relational counseling, CAPS uses a short-term model of care to address issues common to college students.  The number of individual or relational counseling sessions available to students is limited so that CAPS can best serve the needs of all SSU students. Decisions about the number of sessions that a student may have are based on the student's needs, the student’s available resources, and overall student demand for services. The number of group sessions and workshops are unlimited, as appropriate.

What if I need to be seen longer or more often than my CAPS counselor can provide?

If your concerns require long-term or more intensive counseling, we will help you to connect with a private counselor or community agency. 

What if I am concerned about a friend or roommate?

You can set a regular or urgent appointment and talk with a counselor about what you can do to help your friend and/or how to encourage them to see a counselor. If you think your friend is in a serious crisis and may harm themselves or someone else, call 911 immediately. 

Can I request a particular counselor?

No, CAPS is unable to honor requests for particular counselors.  We assign students to counselors based on schedule availability. However, if you have a preference with respect to gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or another aspect of identity, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. If you have any concerns about the counselor you are assigned to, we welcome you to discuss those concerns in the first session with your counselor.  Should you meet with a counselor and feel they are not a good fit for you, please contact us to request a reassignment.  The Director will review your request and reassign you if needed and if there is another counselor available that might better meet your needs.
If you are aware that a close friend, roommate or relational partner is being seen by a particular CAPS counselor, please let us know when scheduling your appointment.  It is best that you not be seen by the same counselor.

What if I need to talk with someone on evenings or weekends?

You can reach a counselor by calling the CAPS phone number 24/7 (707-664-2153). If you are experiencing a psychiatric emergency, please use one of the following resources: Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room OR Call the Sonoma County Crisis Line at (707) 576-8181.

Can I bring my Emotional Support Animal (ESA) to my counseling session?

For virtual sessions by ZOOM or telephone call, yes!  However, CAPS is not able to permit ESAs on site because they are not considered service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). CAPS complies with federal and state disability civil rights laws and does welcome service animals. SSU requires that any student using a service animal on campus request such accommodation by contacting the office of Disability Services for Students (DSS). DSS is located in Schulz 1014a and can be contacted by phone at 707-664-2677, or via the DSS website.

How long are counseling sessions?

CAPS appointments are typically 30 minutes to 50 minutes long. The duration of your CAPS appointment depends on multiple factors, such as the type of appointment scheduled, individual student needs, and clinician availability. For example, regular individual counseling sessions with the counselor you regularly see are typically scheduled for 45 to 50 minutes. Appointments may also be shorter if you prefer, for example, if you have a scheduled Telehealth counseling appointment (e.g. phone or Zoom) with your counselor, and you prefer to just have a brief 15 minute check-in.

What is single session counseling?

Single session counseling sessions are an option for you if you have an immediate concern but are unsure if you want ongoing counseling.  When services are in high-demand, signing up for a single session of counseling may allow you to have a session sooner than you would if you were requesting ongoing counseling.

Will my needs be met/concerns be addressed from single session counseling?

It depends on each individual person. Some students receive just what they were needing by one single session (e.g., tools, guidance, clarifying goals/needs), and some students may benefit from having more time and space in therapy to thoroughly address their unique concerns and needs. If you do schedule a single session of therapy, you will have the opportunity to discuss scheduling another appointment if that feels like it would be beneficial for you.

Once I begin therapy, am I required to attend weekly? I have an impacted schedule with my many responsibilities and demands.

No, you are not required to attend weekly therapy. You and your counselor can discuss each other’s availability and your preferences for scheduling your next appointment. 

Can CAPS counselors prescribe medication? Is there a psychiatrist at CAPS who I can see?

CAPS does not prescribe medication. For students to obtain psychiatric medication, they must see a physician or psychiatrist to have their needs assessed and to have appropriate medication(s) prescribed.  Please contact the Student Health Center on-campus, your primary care physician off-campus, and/or a psychiatrist through your health insurance plan. If you have questions about this process, please call us at CAPS and we will try to help connect you with the appropriate referrals and resources for psychiatric medication.

I am going to graduate from SSU soon, but am interested in seeking counseling services. Should I reach out to CAPS before graduating, or should I instead just begin the process of finding a counselor in the community?

You are welcome to reach out to us at CAPS at any time, even if you are approaching graduation. If you are graduating soon, you may only be able to be seen a few times. However, even if you meet with a CAPS counselor for just one session prior to graduating, you may be able to discuss important topics with your counselor in that session such as: clarifying some of your goals/hopes for therapy when you get connected to a therapist in the community for open-ended therapy after you graduate; tools and tips for self-care during your final weeks of college; helpful resources and referrals in the community to utilize after you graduate; and more.

I think that my family member (who is a Sonoma State student) would benefit from attending counseling at CAPS. How might I talk with my loved one about the benefits of counseling, and encourage them to reach out to CAPS for support?

It may be helpful to to inform your SSU student about some of the benefits of counseling, the importance of mental health/wellness, that CAPS services are confidential, and to encourage your student to visit our website or to call CAPS to learn more about our counselors and the services we provide. We recognize that there can be many barriers and challenges (including systemic, individual, generational, and more) that can make it difficult for students to reach out for help and counseling. Expressing your care and concern to your family member and helping to reduce some of the shame and stigma associated with therapy may help them to reach out.  Please note, you cannot call to schedule an appointment for your SSU student, they must call CAPS themselves to ensure their voluntary participation in counseling and to ensure that we protect the student’s privacy.